This is something I do with younger people that you might like to try with your own children, or find useful to do yourself.
Materials Needed: Colour pens, a large piece of paper and a private space.
- Know that you will be drawing a tree with all its different parts such as roots, ground, trunk, branches, leaves, fruits and seeds. Any of the pens can be used for each part of the Tree of Life and it can be elaborated as you like.
- Start by drawing the ROOTS of the tree and write down the identity of the roots. EG Where do you come from? This can include places you come from, the people, the ideas, traditions, books, religion, language, ancestry etc. Who are the people who have taught you the most in life? What is your favourite place at home, a treasured song, dance or item?
- Then draw the GROUND. Then write how you identify with it. EG. Where do you currently live? What activities do you do in your everyday life?
- Now it is the TRUNK of the tree and write down how you identify with this. EG. What do you value? What skills and abilities do you have? What do you believe passionately in? What qualities and characteristics do you have? What are you committed to and what is your purpose(s) and source of meaning?
- Then draw the BRANCHES of the tree and identify in the branches: What are your hopes, dreams and wishes (these could be for you or others)? Where would you like your life to be heading?
- Draw the LEAVES of the tree and identify in the leaves: Who is important to you?These people could be alive or deceased, or children or adults, or people who you haven’t met but contributed to your life in important ways (an author, artist, musician, or historical figure).
- Please draw the FRUIT of the tree and identify in the fruit: What “gifts” have you received or what legacies have been passed on to you (this includes being cared for, being loved, or having acts of kindness done for you)?
- Then draw the SEEDS of the tree and identify in the seeds: What are the legacies or gifts you want to give others (this could be specific, such as, “I want to give the gift of unconditional love to my children.” Or this could be general, such as, “I want to be remembered as one who made things light-hearted, or was willing to notice those in need.”)?
- Finally, draw a COMPOST HEAP near the tree and identify in the compost heap: Who has been harmful or abusive in some way, but should still be remembered (it may be possible that people in the compost heap are included in other parts of the tree)?
Another tool i like is rather than seeing your life in terms of the standard development phases, fill in the key events that have been critical in your development:
Finally, this can be useful with children. I think it is best when you draw your own houses and fill them in accordingly:
Then of course Headspace, breathing exercises and practising mindfulness is integral. I also promote healthy eating and exercise while also undertaking therapy, to take a holistic approach to mind and body.
I think keeping a journal is a vital reflection tool and this can take any shape and form. However, if you struggle finding the motivation to do this there are some online journalling systems that I know some clients have found helpful, this is just one of them – Mind Journals